Sound familiar? You’ve doubtless uttered that phrase many times in your lifetime. You’re probably using it more than ever these days.
It’s become painfully obvious to me in recent weeks that this downsizing adventure will take far more time than I expected. I shouldn’t be surprised, though. It took Linda and me more than 40 years to accumulate all this stuff; it’s going to take some time to get rid of it.
Still, no matter how much time I allow for a project, it’s never enough. You may outgrow your need for so many material possessions but you never outgrow your need to practice time management.
I recognized this a few months ago when I “officially” assumed semi-retirement status. To me that meant that I’d continue working with the clients I have but would be very selective about accepting new work and would halt proactive efforts to find new business. This change has freed up some time to tackle the downsizing project. Some days, though, it takes up all my time.
For example, I’ve been dealing with a couple shoeboxes full of photos that have accumulated in a closet. The process involves comparing them with photos already in albums and with photos that have been scanned into electronic files. Some of the shoebox photos go directly into albums, some are duplicates and are targeted for sharing, others are scanned before going into albums. Some older photos are odd-sized (by today’s standards) and I still have to find a good way to display them in albums.
All of this, of course, takes time. In some cases, it takes lots of time. The bottom line, though, is worth it. When the photo project is done, most will find a home in albums or in electronic files; the rest will be shared among family and friends. More importantly, perhaps, clutter will be reduced and a big chunk of our family history will be ready to be transferred to our descendants.
The photos, though, are just a small part of the overall downsizing. We still have books, music, a variety of collections and huge amounts of miscellaneous material to sort through and dispose of. It will take time, but we think it’s time well spent.
A side benefit of downsizing is that sorting through a family’s material goods sparks conversation and memories that go well beyond the items themselves and that’s a good thing, for sure.
Tip of the Week: Every human on earth—Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and you—all have the same amount of time. Here are some tips on how to manage yours.
Larry Lehmer is a professional personal historian and chief legacy planner at When Words Matter, Ltd., who connects generations through their stories. To learn more, visit his web site, send him an e-mail or follow him on Twitter.